“But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise” Exhibition Theme: Modernism
♪ Modernisms, and how they have occurred, is a theme that is explored within several artists’ practices, particularly artists that are featured in this exhibition. New York-based artist Mariam Ghani’s twin-screen video installation, “A Brief History of Collapses”, explores not only the plight of modernism in Afghanistan, but also compares and contrasts that to its relationship to Germany. Obviously, Afghanistan and Germany had a bilateral economic and cultural pact in the early twentieth century. Ghani juxtaposes two buildings –one was a former palace in Kabul that belonged to a former monarch who had a very forward-facing policy in terms of his desire to take Afghanistan into the modern world –and shows how that palace now resides in ruins; the other is a ruined building in Kassel that was one of the first public museums, and which has been restored to its former glory and original status. So there’s that interesting juxtaposition between histories, and Afghanistan, as we know, has been an important buffer throughout history between the Middle East and Communism. During the Cold War, America and the West supported mujahideen to fight against the Russians. And obviously, Osama bin Laden was a key component of the mujahideen. He’s a former mujahideen fighter. And ironically, after 9/11, he was the hunted. So it’s quite interesting the way in which histories go back and forth, zigzagging, which is something that I’m quite interested in, within analysis of this region, but also within the conceptual alignment of this exhibition as a whole.